So there we were. Sitting at a table with my aunt an uncle, whom I didn’t even know existed only a few minutes before. So surreel. Funny thing is, I had no issue believing everything they told me. It sure sounded complicated, and perhaps I almost understood why my parents had never told me about them. Understanding didn’t mean I lied it though. There was an anger risen inside of me, but was temprarily muted by curiosity. Kridec, my aunt, was telling me about my mom, when *loud meow*
[Music in background]
This is Nadec, my adventure. Written down in a better way than I can tell it.
[Music louder and solo]
Episode 26: family and foe
Nadec listened in stunned unbelief. No. She believed everything her supposed aunt and uncle were telling her. Stunned. She was merely stunned. Her parents had never told her about any family. They’d always claimed all relatives either lived too far away or were dead. She’d never pressed them for information, which felt silly to her now. In the modern day and age of Earth, being far away shouldn’t be an excuse not to communicate with others. In a way, they hadn’t even lied. The family had been farther away than she’d ever think possible. She kept her anger from before on a simmer, a low burning fire.
By the time she reached the bottom of the bowl of soup, she knew the summarised history of her aunt and why Nadec hadn’t heard of her before. Kridec had given the heirdom to her younger sister, Nadec’s mother. When she was seventeen, they performed a ritual to officially transfer the coming succession. She’d moved out of the castle, with sufficient funds to start a new life. Nadec wondered why she couldn’t stay, but a mouthful of soup prevented her from asking it out loud. Kridec talked right over her anyway.
‘I travelled around and saw the world. Years later, I came back here, with Stetem,’ she pointed her head towards her husband and gave him a slight smile. ‘We bought this mansion. By then, most of Paralelo’s population had almost forgotten about me, which was what we wanted. Everyone was doting over your mother as the next heir. She and I had always stayed in touch, secretly. Do you want more soup?’
Nadec nodded. Before the servant could grab Nadec’s bowl, Kitty jumped off Nadec’s lap and cried a loud and panicky meow. He stalked around, sniffing at places, his howls getting louder.
‘Guts, he needs a toilet. Do you have any loose sand areas outside?’
Nadec stood but Stetem gently pushed her back down by the shoulder.
‘I’m on it, you should listen to the rest of the story.’
He grabbed Kitty’s lead, and guided him away. Kitty sort of followed Stetem.
‘Your mother and father got married while I was still away. I heard it was a lovely wedding. I wish I could’ve been there. But, that’s what I chose, wanting to be away from all attention. Either way, Madec confided in me they had trouble getting pregnant. So much so that they turned towards old myths and legends.’
She stood up and took something from a drawer. The servant came back with the bowl re-filled with soup.
‘Here is something you can eat after finishing your soup.’
Her face held a mysterious —and mischievous?—smile. She held out her hand, palm down, and dropped something on the table. A small box, rectangle-shaped. Frowning at Kridec, Nadec slowly slid it closer. It had a simple mechanism for opening the lid.
The gorgeous aroma of chocolate wafted toward her, overwhelming every other smell. Sweet, earthy, faintly nutty. The chocolate was shaped like small triangles, stamped with a lighter square in the middle. Nadec couldn’t resist and popped one in her mouth. The rich and deep taste of the cacao was too much. She rolled her eyes back before closing them. The initial bitterness lingered while a sweetness overtook it, perfectly paired. By far one of the best chocolates she’d ever eaten.
When it was all melted away, she let the bliss take her a bit longer before opening her eyes.
‘Chocolate helped them get pregnant with me? Perhaps I should reconsider my chocolate-eating habit then.’ She muttered that last, not wanting to insult with her desire to not get pregnant.
Her aunt laughed. It sounded so much like her mother’s laugh, goosebumps spread over Nadec’s arms and her eyes welled up. She blinked it away before Kridec saw it.
‘Now that would be something!’ Kridec’s glee was still obvious when she resumed her talk. ‘No, if one is in certain circles, one would hear about the myth of Earth. It had always been a legend talked about in the Ichau family. Madec somehow found the way to Skip there. She brought me the secret to making chocolate. That’s how—’
‘You! I grounding recognise you. You’re Nadec’s burning employer? That either explains a grounding lot or makes it even more burning strange.’
Kridec’s eyes opened wide. So did her mouth.
‘Close your dripping mouth, you look like a burning fish.’
Nadec couldn’t help but snort at that, despite her surprise at both Patat’s appearance and his words. He recognised her?
‘You, you… you…’
‘Yes, yes, dripping me.’
Stetem came in with Kitty. Kridec slowly turned her head towards him. He looked at her, frowned, and dropped the lead when he saw Patat hovering in the air behind Nadec.
‘Gorwak. That’s a gorwak! They’re real? They were my favourite mythical creature, them and dragons.’
Nadec felt a mixture of guilt for not having told them yet about Blackie, and anticipation for their reaction when she’d tell them about her. She exchanged a few quick telepathic sentences with Blackie to make sure she was alright. Blackie seemed to be more concerned about Nadec than herself. Kitty sauntered towards Patat, who landed on the floor to receive headbuts.
‘I’ve told you about our childhood friend gorwak.’ Kridec narrowed her eyes. ‘You never believed me, did you.’ She huffed. The indignation was muffled by the way she looked back at Patat. She rubbed her eyes.
‘You had a childhood friend gorwak, and it was this gorwak?’
Kridec answered Nadec’s question with a nod. Nadec sighed. That was too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence. Stetem walked in a daze towards the nearest chair.
‘Burning right it was this gorwak.’ Patat sat next to Nadec. His head barely came above the edge of the table. He furrowed his forehead and gave Kridec a meaningful look. She jumped up from her seat, strode into another room, and came back with big blocks of firewood. They lifted the seat up for Patat.
He reached out and pulled the bowl of soup towards him. Kitty jumped up, lying down on his lap. It made eating more difficult, and it couldn’t have been comfortable—Patat being only a bit larger than Kitty. He allowed it anyway, and stroked him while eating the soup in between talking. Nadec grabbed the little box of chocolate, content to eat those instead of the soup, musing over how wrong she was about thinking Patat only ate grass and leaves.
‘This is good. It’s been too long since I ate hot food. Human food.’
‘Fifty-two years since my brother ran away with you.’ Nadec’s aunt had a faint smile on her lips, remembering childhood memories. ‘He only told us what he did afterwards. We never—’
‘Wait.’ Nadec had to interrupt. She had to.
‘Brother? I’ve got an uncle too? What else? Do I have a lost sibling somewhere? Is the uncle still in the castle? Is he the king now?’ Before she finished her sentence, she already knew it was a stupid question. She knew well enough who ruled Paralelo right now.
‘Oh no, he has passed away. Don’t be sad, it was years ago. He was supposed to be the heir, so when he died, it came to me. I already told you what I did with that.’
‘When you were seventeen,’ Nadec mumbled, trying to piece things together. It was all a bit confusing. Kridec nodded.
‘Your mother was fifteen at the time. She still had thirteen years until the Wooden Water Crown would appear on her head, but she was already ready for it. And you know, she actually got the Crown while she was far into her pregnancy from you.’
The Wooden Water Crown. That had been part of Wyny’s ridiculous tiles.
‘Pagewyn,’ Nadec paused when Stetem uttered a small growl. Kridec’s face fell into a careful neutrality, which screamed disapproval in its suddenness. ‘Yeah, so, Pagewyn, he has the crown now, right, so is he a cousin? How is he related?’
A smoldering heat in her aunt’s eyes replaced the neutrality, emphasised by reddening cheeks.
‘He is a fool, a puppet, put on the throne by usurpers. He is not related to us, at all.’
Nadec’s sigh of relief felt like a betrayal to her aunt and uncle’s anger. At least that was one less thing to worry about. Not that it mattered much anymore. Her head already spun from the complicated family history and heirdom.
‘He doesn’t have the Wooden Water Crown yet.’ Stetem said right on top of Kridec, who continued.
‘The Wooden Water Crown only appears on the head of the person most suited to wear it. That means the first descendant of the Ichau bloodline, when they turn twenty eight. Or, if they’re not here at that time, or there aren’t heir anymore, then it goes to the person sitting on the throne. But that has actually never happened, as far as I know.’
It all fell in place. Partly. Nadec’s birthday was in a few days. If she was in The Other Realm then, the Crown would fall on her head. If she wasn’t, or dead, the Crown would go to Wyny. But why would that mean the end of Earth, like the zlurp had said? She had a suspicion.
‘What else happens when someone gets the Crown?’
‘They get full potential of the Squares, Triangles and Lines.’
Nadec bit back a curse. The full power of the magic. With the wrong intentions, that might well become the end of a world.
‘Thank you for listening to Nadec, episode 26: family and foe
Narrated, adventured and lived through by myself, Nadec. Written in a better way than I can tell it, by Astrid Jef.
Don’t go just yet, we’ve got bloopers coming up. [music on background] Find us on Twitter @astridjef and @nadecandkitty.
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